Tesla Sues Australian Company Over Patent Infringement

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Tesla sues Australian supercapacitor manufacturer over alleged infringement of two patents, in response to earlier action

Tesla has sued an Australian manufacturer of supercapacitors for electric vehicle over patent infringement, saying the company, Cap-XX, infringed two US patents owned by one of its subsidiaries.

Capacitors are an integral part of an electric vehicle’s energy charging system, with a much lower capacity than standard batteries but a far lower charging and discharging time that makes them useful for regenerative braking systems or for providing power for rapid acceleration.

The lawsuit comes in spite of a 2014 pledge by chief executive Elon Musk that the firm would allow others to use its patented technologies, made in a blog post titled “All Our Patents Are Belong To You“.

Musk wrote at the time that the company would “not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use its technology”.

Image credit: Tesla
Image credit: Tesla

‘Good faith’

But the policy only applied to companies that agreed not to sue Tesla over patent infringement, meaning in practice that it would in turn gain access to such firms’ patented technologies.

Tesla said its new lawsuit was filed in response to a patent infringement action that Cap-XX filed against subsidiary Maxwell Technologies in 2019.

“Maxwell has a history of innovation that has resulted in its own patents, now assigned to Tesla, and thus Tesla brings this suit against Cap-XX to protect its intellectual property rights,” the firm said in the filing in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

The car maker acquired Maxwell, also a maker of capacitors, in 2019.

Ongoing action

It alleged that Cap-XX had infringed patents related to supercapacitor electrodes, and demanded unspecified monetary damages.

Cap-XX’s ongoing lawsuit in Delaware federal court likewise alleges Maxwell infringed its supercapacitor patents.

Tesla, said it produced its first Cybertruck at its Austin plant last weekend after a two-year delay, ahead of delivering second-quarter earnings on Wednesday.